When Magic Happens: Fill The Hall 2016
Truly, my heart swells. I reflect on two words said often by Executive Director Patricia Lynch during the past five years of my affiliation with this remarkable arts institution: gratitude and magic. The magic of extraordinary artists, writers, and cinema transforms our historic stage (and our modern Loft stage on Congress street) nearly every night of the week. And, our frequent collaborations with such local nonprofits as the SFFP lend the magic of the theater to community events like Fill the Hall. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “our buildings shape us.” The historic design and magical atmosphere of our Chestnut Street American Treasure adds a special vibe to this day, as the red velvet seats get covered with food.
Corny as it sounds, I’m filled with humility and gratitude to be with so many dedicated friends, colleagues, and Seacoast neighbors who gave their time and talent to pull off this community collaboration that will help feed hundreds of kids in need this summer. Among them are Seacoast Family Food Pantry Executive Director Deb Anthony and Music Hall Director of Marketing Monte Bohanan, both of whom not only efficiently directed a complex operation, but also worked all day on site—with Monte’s entire family pitching in—along with Kait Smith, Content Marketing, who spread the word on all our media channels from the first announcement. So many Music Hall and SFFP staff, board members, volunteers, and other community activists contributed to the success and good cheer of this exceptional event, and I feel grateful for all of them.
Fast forward to day’s end, when all of the theater’s nearly 900 seats are filled with food—roughly 7 tons. “For me, this event is most significant because it really does bring the community out for the cause,” says Deb Anthony. “The other thing it speaks to, is that when you make it obvious to a community like Portsmouth and the Seacoast what is needed, people will respond. That is what is special about living here, and special about doing business here.”
Adds community activist Denise Wheeler, “The combination of our historic cultural icon, The Music Hall, and the progressive, community-driven Seacoast Family Food Pantry—celebrating its 200th anniversary this year—creates a grand vision that stirs the public to action. The public responds to the dynamism of these two venerable institutions working together.”
In these crazy times, it is events like Fill the Hall that bring out the best in people, and give us hope for the future. Stay tuned for more about the thriving community partnerships that make us proud to call the Seacoast home.